If you’re like me, you often find yourself watching films and seeing tons of fashion styles you would love to wear in real life. I watch movies from so many decades and from so many different genres, if I actually did copy all the styles I like, I’d have one diverse wardrobe. But if there’s one accessory you could easily get a lot of mileage out of, it’s a beret. Berets have been a popular hat style for decades, so if you want to go for a Norma Shearer inspired look one day and a Faye Dunaway inspired look the next, a beret could easily work for both styles.
If you’re a fan of blonde bombshells, this is the month for you! Rather than having just one star of the month, TCM will be spotlighting two classic blondes every Monday and Wednesday this month. All the classic blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, and Jayne Mansfield (just to name a few) will be getting their time to shine. And in preparation for the TCM Classic Film Cruise, they’ll be playing a night of movies set on ships every Thursday. Lots of fun stuff to look forward to, so let’s get to my picks for the month:
In Contempt, Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli) is hired by American film producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) to rework the script for an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang. On his first day of work, Paul’s wife Camille (Brigitte Bardot) stops by, but Camille begins to suspect that he is using her to win points with Jeremy. She soon informs Paul that she doesn’t love him anymore, but Paul convinces her to join him in Capri for filming, hoping the trip would help them rekindle their romance. While in Capri, Camille sets it up so Paul would find her alone with Jeremy. When Paul finds them, Camille tells him that although she used to respect him, she can’t stand him anymore because she feels he traded her to Jeremy to work on the film. Of course, Paul denies this and offers to quit the film and go home if she’ll stay with him. But Camille doesn’t bend and heads off to Rome with Jeremy.
I can sum up my thoughts on Contempt in one word: disappointing. You have no idea how much I really wanted to like this movie. I thought this was sure to instantly become one of my favorites. And really, there’s no reason I should have thought otherwise. I love French New Wave, so I couldn’t wait to see what I’d heard was one of the definitive French New Wave films. I love Brigitte Bardot and I knew Contempt as one of the movies she’s most remembered for. And since I knew this was a movie about making movies, I figured it’d be right up my alley since I love movies like Sunset Blvd. and The Bad and the Beautiful. Fritz Lang even makes an appearance!
But when I finally got to see Contempt, I just could not get into it. I saw it for the first time a few months back when TCM played it. But since TCM played a print that was dubbed into English and had awful picture quality, I thought maybe I’d like it more if I rented the Criterion Collection DVD since I knew that would be in French and would have better picture quality. So I added it to my Netflix queue and they sent the Criterion Collection version. For the life of me, I still couldn’t get into the movie. The story bored me. If I wanted to listen to discussions about how to interpret Homer’s Odyssey, I’d visit a ninth grade English class. I simply couldn’t get myself care about any of the characters. Bardot had amazing screen presence and I usually love to just watch her work on-screen, but her being in this movie wasn’t enough to keep me interested. The whole thing was just painfully dull to me. Sometimes I end up coming around to a movie a little while down the road, so maybe in a few years, I’ll see something in Contempt I didn’t see before. But right now, it simply did nothing for me at all. I will say one thing for it, though: it did have some stunning visuals.
As March rolls in, 31 Days of Oscar enters its final days. But there’s still plenty to see in those final days. On Monday, March 1st at 9:30 AM EST, there’s Possessed starring Joan Crawford and Van Heflin. Most people consider Mildred Pierce to be the highlight of Joan Crawford’s career, but I think her performance in Possessed really gives Mildred Pierce a run for its money. Prime time on March 2nd looks fantastic: West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. I am a little embarrassed to say that I have never seen Rebel Without a Cause, but I’m looking forward to seeing it. If you’ll be home during the day on March 3rd, the last day of 31 Days of Oscar, be sure to check out Adam’s Rib at 11:30 AM, which is followed by The Asphalt Jungle at 1:30 PM. Two totally different movies, but they’re equally amazing.
TCM resumes its normal programming on March 4th, but it looks like there’s still plenty of great stuff to look forward to. This month, they’ll be spotlighting a rather interesting couple of stars: Ginger Rogers and Akira Kurosawa. I’m definitely looking forward to the Ginger Rogers movies, but I’m not so sure about the Kurosawa. I’ve seen Rashomon and I’ve tried watching Seven Samurai a couple of times before but just haven’t been able to get into it. Rashomon was good, just not really my cup of tea. Anyone have any suggestions as to which of his movies I should check out this month? I’ve heard so many great things about Kurosawa and I’m still willing to give his movies a shot, I just don’t really know where to begin.